Managing your online reputation

Online Reputation - Image Credit: Thinkstock

Nowadays employers rarely hire just skills and are looking for much more of a complete package – skills plus a well-rounded individual that fits well with their team and company. And a person’s social media footprint gives employers (and others) the best insight into your passions, interests, communication styles, work habits, work/life balance and all sorts of other valuable information.

Simply put, it helps an employer get to know you and get comfortable with you before a single word has even been exchanged. So think about it, if you had the choice to consider a cold bland CV or an actual person with common interests, passions and work/life style, wouldn’t the choice be obvious?

When ExecuNet began researching in 2005 how publicly available online information influenced executive hiring, three-quarters of the search firm recruiter respondents revealed they were already Googling candidates to find information beyond the résumé. As a result, more than one-quarter of recruiters had eliminated a candidate because of what they found online.

ExecuNet continued to monitor this trend, developing a series of reports that raised awareness of online reputation management, and the 2010 data casts no doubt that Googling has been adopted as a best practice with 90% regularly conducting this activity. Forty-six percent uncovered digital deal-breakers, such as ethics violations, falsified employment history and convictions, which lead to eliminating candidates from consideration.

The younger generations — digital natives — who largely live online have to make efforts to separate themselves from their less-professional identities when they enter the workforce, but for successfully established executives, they'll have to work to become visible and distinguish themselves. In the most recent research, 80% of executive recruiters said a candidate's job prospects improve when positive information is found online.

With this research in mind, take some time to:

  • Find what's online about you on a regular basis
  • Keep your profiles private, only allow your trusted friends to view them
  • Work to correct/eradicate anything that doesn't reflect your name well.
  • Develop a plan to establish visibility, both on the Internet at-large and niche communities where your peers dwell.